I am just back from the Pride London Parade. Estimates from the organizers and the police said half a million people. The theme was Fairytales, Myths and Legends--can you think of anything that would better lend itself to fabulousness?
(with this theme you can even be fabulous on your mobile.)
The parade got off from Baker Street about half an hour late. The man beside me, temporarily holding his partner's pride flag while he got seated on top of the railing, speculated that there had not been enough mirrors on site for everyone to check their hair. We were standing on Regent Street, just around the corner from Oxford Circus proper, where I had been able to get close right up to the barricade. The parade took about another half an hour to get to us.
Meanwhile there were men walking up and down the parade route selling flags (small rainbow flags as well as larger flags of the Union Jack, but with pink instead of blue) and whistles (on rainbow cords).
After a while, the route marshalls forced people sitting on the curbs to get back behind the barricades lining the streets and then after a bit more the they closed off the crossings, sowe knew it was getting close. After more waiting, we started to hear the bands but could still see nothing, and my neighbor suggested that someone at the front might have broken a heel.
The photographers were waiting too.
Near the front was one of several percussion bands, setting the tone for the marchers.
Needless to say, not everyone marched to the same beat.
(There is no way these pictures do justice to the music and the whistles. Everyone along the parade route blew their whistles along with the music, and also anytime they hoped to get someone in the parade to look for a picture or a smile.)
There were representatives of the London Fire Brigade, the Metropolitan Police, and several branches of the armed services. Apparently this was the first year that they were allowed to march in uniform, and everyone applauded.
(Those of you who live in the land of Don't Ask, Don't Tell--can you imagine such a thing??? Wouldn't that be cause for celebration in itself?)
There were many other organizations represented--advocacy groups, health organizations, churches, a gay soccer team, a gay rugby team, lesbian rollerskaters, older members of the LGBT community. Then there were representatives of various labor unions, companies, the National Health Care system, even the archivists!
There were washboard abs and tricorn hats:
There were advocates for equal rights for transgender and transsexual people--a group not always accepted even in the LGBT community.
There were, uh, hairdos--
. . . and headdresses. . .
(the nipple accoutrements aside, could you walk 2.5 miles in those shoes. Ah, but if you could--how worth it would be!)
And even environmentalists got into the action:
Have you ever seen a green like that?
There was a giant flag, so big that the front of it had to go quite a ways past us before the whole thing was around the corner.
Oh, and don't forget the floats! They were either decorated buses or lorries with elaborate sets, and each one had its own soundtrack.
Someone knew I was coming!
There were men on stilts:
There were men on stilts--with wings!
There were great signs:
Fundamentally, it was a great party--and really just a lead up to the even bigger party now at Trafalgar Square.
Happy Pride, Everyone!